RYA Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance for Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres

Advice on preventative measures for club and centre activity, plus guidance on legal and financial support

Updated 19 July 2021: We will update our guidance for clubs and centres as and when appropriate; please keep an eye on the page below for further information.

Club and centre activity

Return to Boating resources

See links below for various guidance, resources, videos and forums about returning to boating.

Legal and financial support  

How do I find out what financial support is available for me or my organisation? 

The UK Government has a 'support finder' tool to help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the Coronavirus Pandemic. The simple online questionnaire takes under a minute to complete and will signpost business owners and the self-employed to relevant Government financial information.

Temporary VAT Reduction

If you are a club with an on-site cafe or restaurant which supplies food and/or non-alcoholic drinks either for consumption on your premises or for takeaway, then normally you are required to charge VAT at the standard rate of 20%. The temporary reduced rate means that when you make these supplies you will only need to charge 5%. Government intends to extend the temporary reduced rate of VAT of 5% until 30 September 2021 and prepare for a new rate of 12.5% from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022.

Where you are eligible you can retain the saving for the benefit of the club or you may choose to pass it or a proportion of it onto your members/guests etc.

You can find further information about what funding support is available for your business by visiting gov.uk.

Please note, unless stated otherwise all funds received via the grant schemes (detailed below) will be subject to tax.

Restart Grant Scheme

The Government provided Restart Grants for hospitality, leisure and gym businesses in England of up to £18,000 per premises to help with the cost of reopening. Another £425 million is also being provided to local authorities in England to put towards discretionary business grant funding. The scheme closed to new applications on 30 June 2021. If you haven’t received your payment by 31 July 2021, please contact your local council.

Community Ownership Fund

The Government is creating a new £150 million Community Ownership Fund. From the summer, community groups will be able to bid for up to £250,000 matched funding to help them to buy local assets to run as community-owned businesses. This fund applies primarily to hospitality business however, in exceptional cases up to £1 million of matched funding will be available to help establish a community-owned sports club or buy a sports ground at risk of loss from the community.

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package

The £10 million Kick-starting Tourism Package will give small businesses in English tourist destinations grants of up to £5,000 to help them adapt their businesses following the Coronavirus pandemic. Businesses can use the funding to pay for specialist professional advice such as human resources, legal or financial expertise, to adopt new technology and online systems or to purchase new equipment. 100% of the money will come from government with no obligation for businesses to contribute financially.

The package is aimed at small businesses in tourist destinations in which case it could be meaningful to Recognised Training Centres who may have fallen through the gaps of Government support. It may also be beneficial to Affiliated Clubs, although most clubs are likely to have received a grant in which case they may not be eligible for this package.

Businesses overseas should contact the relevant local government authorities to explore the possibility of financial support.

Additional Restrictions Grant

Designed for businesses that require further business support as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic, this is distributed at the discretion of local authorities. All Local Authorities in England, (except those who have already accessed additional enhanced business support settlements, namely: Liverpool, Lancashire, Greater Manchester, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire, Warrington and Nottinghamshire) are eligible for funding under this scheme due to the widespread national restrictions that came into force on 5 November 2020.

Under the Additional Restrictions Grant, local authorities will receive a one off lump sum payment amounting to £20 per head in each eligible local authority when LCAL 3 or widespread national restrictions are imposed. Local authorities can use this funding for business support activities. This will primarily take the form of discretionary grants, but local authorities could also use this funding for wider business support activities.

Local Authorities are encouraged to develop discretionary grant schemes to help those businesses which – while not legally forced to close – are nonetheless severely impacted by the restrictions put in place to control the spread of Covid-19. This could include businesses which supply the retail, hospitality, and leisure sectors, or businesses in the events sector. 

Local Authorities may also choose to help businesses outside the business rates system, which are effectively forced to close. Clubs and Registered Training Centres which are not within the rating system should consider approaching their local authority to see what is available. 

Sport England - Return to Play Fund

Sport England launched a £16.5 million fund to give additional help to the sport and physical activity sector during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Return to Play Fund supports groups, clubs and organisations who have been impacted by restrictions brought in to tackle the disease, and is part of their overall response to the crisis that now includes more than £220m of government and National Lottery funding.

£10m – Return to Play: Small Grants

Sport England have launched a £10 million fund focussed on delivering grants of up to £10,000 that support clubs and community groups responding to the challenges of returning to play during the Coronavirus pandemic. The funding can be used for implementing changes which will help returning to sport easier, including:

  • Minor facility alterations
  • Service alterations
  • Operational alterations
  • Running costs

£1.5m – Return to Play: Active Together

This crowdfunding initiative will help sports clubs and organisations set up their own campaigns to help sustain them through the crisis.

It’s a great alternative if they don’t meet the priority groups of the other parts of the Return to Play package, and they’ll match crowd funds of up to £10,000 to help cover the loss of income.

The partnership with Crowdfunder will also include advice, guidance and training to help create successful campaigns.

For further information on who can apply for funding and how successful applicants are selected, please visit the Sport England website.

You can find further information about applying for the new funding on GOV.UK.

What financial support is available for the self-employed?

The RYA is acutely aware of the hardship that the situation has presented to those in the RYA network who work on a self-employed basis and we have worked with other Sport National Governing Bodies and the Sport & Recreation Alliance to lobby Government.

On 26 March 2020 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a UK-wide scheme to financially support self-employed individuals affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. Details of the package are as follows:

  • An initial grant of up to £2,500 per month for 3 months calculated on 80% of average monthly trading profits over the last 3 years
  • The scheme is open to those with trading profit of less than £50,000 in 2018/19 or an average trading profit of less than £50K in 16/17, 17/18 and 18/19. Half of the income in these periods must come from self-employment.
  • The grant will be paid direct to banks in one lump sum covering the 3 month period at the beginning of June. 

A further grant for the self-employed, which covered the period from February to April 2021, paying 80% of three months average trading profits capped at £7,500.

A fifth and final grant covering May to September 2021. You will be able to claim from late July if you are eligible for the fifth grant. The amount of the fifth grant will be determined by how much your turnover has been reduced in the year April 2020 to April 2021.

The fifth grant will be worth:

  • 80% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £7,500, for those with a turnover reduction of 30% or more.
  • 30% of 3 months’ average trading profits, capped at £2,850, for those with a turnover reduction of less than 30%.

The grant covers anyone who has filed a tax return for the 2019-20 tax year.

What support is available for charities?

The Chancellor has announced an extra £750 million funding for frontline charities, as part of the Coronavirus support. The package of funding is to ensure frontline charities can continue their vital work during the outbreak. Maritime charities have a huge impact – keeping people active, improving well-being, connecting people socially and helping people learn new skills – but not many will be providing frontline services during this time. Charities may benefit from the support already announced either by Government or by Sport England.

Gift Aid 

If your club is a registered charity or registered with HMRC as a Community Amateur Sports Club (CASC) and you have reduced or even suspended subscription fees during the pandemic, there may be an opportunity to claim Gift Aid on any payment by a member which exceeds the reduced subscription e.g. if their existing monthly standing orders continue, if it is invited/treated as a donation. Where subs have been suspended altogether clubs could consider inviting members to make donations which could qualify for Gift Aid.

Word of warning - Gift Aid is not available on payments for services a club provides e.g. boat storage/mooring fees.

If you have events that have been cancelled e.g. an annual fund raising dinner as a result of the crisis for which you have already taken payment, rather than refund the entry fees, you could consider asking participants if they are willing to treat the fee as a donation and, if so, claim Gift Aid on that donation.

HMRC’s Guidance on this can be accessed here and whilst it refers to charities and not specifically to CASCs, we are advised that the CASC Unit in Bootle has confirmed that the concessionary treatment should apply equally to sports events organised by a charity or CASC.

It will be extremely important to ensure you have appropriate documentation providing an audit trail, ensuring your members/participants complete a Gift Aid Declaration. 

Who does the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme apply to?

The RYA Legal Team has produced detailed guidance on Furlough Leave, which has been temporarily introduced by the Government during the Coronavirus pandemic to mean leave can be offered which keeps employees on the payroll without them working. 

What will happen if due to a reduction in income my business is unable to cover the rent of our building?

Under the Coronavirus Act 2020 S.82/83 business tenancies in England, Wales and Northern Ireland will benefit from a protection from forfeiture/re-entry as a result of non-payment of rent during the crisis. These provisions have been extended by the Government from the original end date of 30 June 2020 to 25 March 2022 for England and 30 September 2021 for Wales and Northern Ireland, after which time the normal position will resume, subject to any Government extension. This means that if you are unable to pay the rent during this period, your organisation will still be able to occupy the building and the landlord will not be permitted to take re-entry/forfeiture action during this time. As a commercial tenant you will still be liable for the rent and a payment plan should be agreed with your landlord

Can we access support for emergency budget planning?

The RYA is offering guidance and advice to Affiliated Clubs and Recognised Training Centres to assist with emergency financial planning. The financial planning club guidance includes advice on reviewing income and expenditure, how to utilise savings, plus ideas to help generate revenue. Clubs and training centres can also access a COVID-19 Financial Toolkit which has been created to support those working on emergency planning and budgeting processes.

Legionella Disease

If, as is likely to be the case, the water facilities in your premises have remained unused and dormant during the Coronavirus lockdown period this can present potentially ideal conditions for legionella bacteria to thrive. Clubs and RTCs will need to consider this along with any remedial action necessary prior to re-opening facilities. To assist we have produced the following guidance: ‘COVID-19 Clubs and the control of Legionella’s Disease.

What measures do I legally need to implement to ensure fair access to facilities for members/customers?

As a service provider, association and/or employer you have a legal obligation to ensure the decisions you make in response to the Coronavirus do not directly or indirectly discriminate against employees, customers or members with protected characteristics. The Guidance, ‘COVID-19 and Discrimination’ looks at the relevant legislation and provides advice on how best to ensure compliance with it when drawing up COVID-19 policies.